Still later I wrote a series of three blog posts, the conclusion of which was that even the print-based business model of Telstra was going, going, gone due to shifts in judicial thinking about what copyright. Much was said there about those shifts, but here I’ll just note that by September 2011 there was little copyright protection remaining for the Yellow and White Pages due to court decisions in Australia.

My examination of telephone directories and the law began in depth when I was involved in advising two clients from the mid-1990s about copyright and Telstra’s claim to copyright in its directories. I wrote about that in Copyright legal advice pays long term.

It took almost 20 years for digital media to play out its affect on Telstra’s revenue and business models for Sensis. Finally, yesterday Telstra sold 70% of its shares in Sensis to Platinum Equity, a California-based private equity firm. The Trading Post and voice directory services are not part of the deal.

The Australian Financial Review in a cover story reports today that those shares were sold for $454 million. The deal values Telstra’s remaining 30% stake in Sensis at $649 million.

For me it is not a case of being wise with hindsight. The above narrative and stream of articles speak for themselves. Today we can declare screaming facts that should have led Telstra, Sensis and their advisory and leadership team to make moves much earlier. Back a dozen years ago the value of Sensis could be touted to be anywhere upwards to $20 billion, though that top figure may have been touted only during the bubble years before the dot com collapse. However, sometime years ago Telstra should have got out the scalpel and cut itself off from the business of Sensis.

Like the Fairfax company’s leadership team, Telstra allowed its print assets and online assets to drain value. For Fairfax see Disruptive innovation in Oz job, car, and property advertising.

The Fairfax and Sensis stories point to a few truisms. The value of intellectual property and related digital media assets is subject to great changes, and one must be ready to change, or otherwise get disrupted by events. It is imperative to have the best possible vision of the future, based on experience, knowledge and good instincts. For some more on that, see – Intellectual property and digital media futures.

It would be nice, real nice, if more people called for a conversation about the future. Lawyer’s have feelings too! We don’t want our best writing to be unloved and ignored in cyberspace. Where are you at? Let’s talk about your future.

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